The Idaho volleyball team kicked off the 2015 season by facing three top 35 teams this weekend in the Chevron Rainbow Wahine tournament in Manoa, Hawaii.
But errors and a low average attacking percentage were key factors in the Vandals losing their first three matches.
Idaho coach Debbie Buchanan said they are hoping to stay consistent with their error management.
“Those errors make a big difference when you look at a two-point set,” Buchanan said. “Our offensive tempo was real good this weekend. Now we just need to work to reduce those little errors that we are making right now.”
Despite the errors, Buchanan said she felt positive after this weekend in Hawaii.
“We’ve played some really tough teams, and I thought our kids battled,” Buchanan said. “Our passing was really solid, our offense that we’re running is fast to the pin and it’s good, we’re executing. We now just have to clean up our serving a little bit.”
In their first game against No. 18 Hawaii Friday, the Vandals put pressure on the Rainbow Wahine as they were able to take the lead for the majority of the final set after being down 8-2. Idaho took a 14-13 lead after an error from Hawaii. It held the lead until scoring its 19th and final point after a kill from Katelyn Peterson — who led the team with 11 kills — to put the Vandals up by one.
However, the Vandals had multiple errors which led to the Rainbow Wahine scoring seven unanswered points en route to its sweep.
Among the final points from Hawaii, five of them resulted from Idaho’s attack errors. When it was all said and done, the Vandals committed 29 total errors (17 in attack and 12 on serves) to Hawaii’s 19 (12 in attack and 7 on serves).
In her first match since her season-ending knee injury, Meredith Coba led the team in assists with 14 in addition to her three digs.
Saturday’s game was a struggle for the Vandals as they were unable to stop Oregon State’s Mary-Kate Marshall and Katelyn Driscoll. The two earned a combination of 29 kills. Idaho’s Becca Mau led the Vandals with eight kills.
Idaho’s percentage for the match was .144 as it struggled early in the first set. Oregon State’s offense was in rhythm as it hammered a lot of kills while Idaho committed multiple attack errors. The Beavers took the lead 9-2 in the first set.
Idaho briefly recovered from its misfortunes after Mau’s kill which reduced Oregon State’s lead to six.
However, after Idaho scored two out of the next three points, the Beavers scored eight unanswered points and led 18-5 in the first set. It was a margin the Vandals couldn’t reduce as they lost the first set 25-10.
The Beavers swept the Vandals which put them at 0-2 but they looked to capitalize on their misfortunes in Sunday’s game against Wichita State.
Despite keeping pace with the Shockers — particularly in the second set — errors and a .114 hitting percentage weren’t enough for the Vandals to earn their first win, and like their first two matches, were swept 3-0.
Freshman DeVonne Ryter out of Sedona, Arizona, led Idaho with nine kills and a .429 hitting percentage against the Shockers..
Buchanan said Ryter did a great job against the Shockers and her goal is to get her middles more involved in their plays.
In the final set, Idaho and Wichita State fought back and forth until they tied at 20 apiece when Mau put down a kill.
However, the Shockers would score the next three points until a service error by Wichita State and a kill from Peterson cut the Idaho deficit to one.
It wasn’t enough to win the set as the Shockers won 25-22. The Shockers’ three out of the last five points came from Idaho attack errors.
Mau had eight kills against the Shockers.
Mau’s consistent performance this weekend earned her all-tournament honors, the only Vandal to earn that honor over the weekend. It is Mau’s second career all-tournament honor after she earned the honor at the UC Irvine tournament last season.
Mau, a sophomore from Longmont, Colorado, averaged 2.33 kills per set with a .347 hitting percentage in the three matches she played this weekend.
“She had solid numbers for the whole weekend,” Buchanan said. ” … Just her overall play she’s doing a great job.”
It’s the first time since 2006 the Vandals started the season 0-3.
Idaho will face three more opponents this weekend in the Idaho Volleyball Classic at Memorial Gym. It plays Seattle U at 7 p.m. Friday, UC Irvine at 12:30 p.m. Saturday and Washington State at 7 p.m. Saturday.
Luis Torres can be reached at email@example.com